Posts Tagged ‘cota’

Remembering the Cosco Busan Oil Spill Three Years Later – Turns Out That Everybody was to Blame

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Has it been only three years since the Cosco Busan, the leakiest 2001 Hyundai ever, spilled 58,000 gallons of bunker fuel* into the bay? Seems longer.

Anyway, turns out that a dude who supposed to be up front looking out for stuff in the pea soup fog was downstairs in the galley eating breakfast. I did not know that, no sir. Of course, the idea to depart on sked despite the fog came from the bar pilot, so that’s the person who’s primarily responsible. But there still plenty of blame to go around. Deets below.

Screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeech!

Click to expand

All right, it’s Blame Time:

The National Transportation Safety Board determined the following probable causes of the accident:

- the pilot’s degraded cognitive performance from his use of prescription medications, despite his completely clean post accident drug test,
- the absence of a comprehensive pre-departure master/pilot exchange and a lack of effective communication between Pilot John Cota and Master Mao Cai Sun during the accident voyage, and
- (COSCO Busan Master) Sun’s ineffective oversight of Cota’s piloting performance and the vessel’s progress.

Other contributing factors included:

- the failure of Fleet Management Ltd. to train the COSCO Busan crewmembers (which led to such acts of gross negligence as the bow lookout eating breakfast in the galley instead of being on watch) and Fleet Management’s failure to ensure that the crew understood and complied with the company’s safety management system;
- the failure of Caltrans to maintain foghorns on the bridge which were silent despite the heavy fog;
- the failure of Vessel Traffic Safety (VTS) to alert Cota and Sun that they were headed for the tower. VTS is legally required to alert a vessel if an accident appears imminent, yet they remained silent;
- the malfunctioning radar on the COSCO Busan, which led Captains Cota and Sun to use an electronic chart for the rest of the voyage. Although Coast Guard investigators found the radar to be in working order, they did not examine it until days after the accident (allowing time for faulty equipment to be fixed, which is not uncommon after a marine accident)
- Captain Sun’s incorrect identification of symbols on the electronic chart;
- the U.S. Coast Guard’s failure to provide adequate medical oversight of Cota, in view of the medical and medication information he had reported to the Coast Guard

Happy Anniversary, Cosco Busan, or should I say MSC Venezia? Don’t ever come back.

The patched-up ship finally hits the road, back in aught-seven – this was the last time we’ll ever see the Cosco Busan in the Bay Area, most likely:

*Yeah, Wiki is still wrong on that gallonage figure, partly due to the U.S. Coast Guard sitting on information for months and months ’cause they didn’t want to earn themselves any more bad press.

Cosco Busan Oil Spill Endgame: Chinese-Based Fleet Management Ltd. to pay $10 Mil.

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Here’s the news from the boys and girls at Justice, below.

Patched up and riding high – the last time we saw the Cosco Busan back in 2007. Will it ever come back? She’s called the MSC Venezia these days, currently working in the Canaries.

Oh well, she’s not the first Hyundai to leak oil into San Francsico Bay, and she won’t be the last.

The full release, after the jump

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Cosco Busan Update: The NTSB Spanks the U.S. Coast Guard Hard

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

The United States Coast Guard has a bit of work to do per the National Transportation Safety Board‘s news release today regarding the Cosco Busan oil spill of 2007. Sure, the pilot and the shipping firm get blamed, but the USCG takes a few under the waterline as well.

Read on below. Note that they don’t call the Delta Tower of the Bay Bridge the “Delta Span” as many, many people have (including Captain Cota on the day in question). Also note the figure of 53,000 gallons mentioned by the NTSB. It’s not clear whether this is the latest estimate of the size of the spill or if it’s the same exact figure leadership elements of the USCG falsely quoted to the press for months for some idiotic reason having to do with not wanting to be criticised for changing their minds or something. Bad form, Coast Guard. Wiki still says 58,000 gallons or so, so that’s good enough for me.   

The USCG buzzing about on a happier day: 

Washington, DC – The National Transportation Safety Board determined today that a medically unfit pilot, an ineffective master, and poor communications between the two were the cause of an accident in which the Cosco Busan container ship spilled thousands of gallons of fuel oil into the San Francisco Bay after striking a bridge support tower.

On November 7, 2007, at about 8:00 a.m. PST, in heavy fog with visibility of less than a quarter mile, the Hong Kong- registered, 901-foot-long container ship M/V Cosco Busan left its berth in the Port of Oakland destined for South Korea. The San Francisco Bay pilot, who was attempting to navigate the ship between the Delta and Echo support towers of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, issued directions that resulted in the ship heading directly toward the Delta support tower. While avoiding a direct hit, the side of the ship struck the fendering system at the base of the Delta tower, which created a 212-foot-long gash in the ship’s forward port side and breached two fuel tanks and a ballast tank.

More deets after the jump.

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Rant: The Cosco Busan Hit the Delta Tower, not “Delta Span” of the Bay Bridge.

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

The whole Cosco Busan deal  is hotting up these days. Check out the federal charges against Captain John Cota posted by KPIX here.

Here’s the rant part. The Busan hit the Delta Tower of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. It didn’t hit the “Delta Span”, despite numerous accounts reporting it that way.  A “span” is the more or less horizontal part of a bridge where you might see cars zipping by. A tower is the up and down part that helps support the spans.

Yet, we still hear about the span, even from the official federal paperwork:

“The M/V Cosco Busan departed the Port of Oakland in heavy fog and struck the Delta span of the San Francisco Bay Bridge…”

It’s very possible that Cota mistakenly reported to authorities that the ship “touched” the Delta Span. He was under a lot of pressure. The point is that whether you’re trying a case in real life or just in the press, it’s nice to get these small details correct. If half of the reports of what Cota said over the radio are incorrect, what other reported details are incorrect?

Lastly, take a look at today’s headline, below. It’s very possible that Cota could be found to have some or most of the responsibility for the oil spill, and yet not serve any time behind bars. So he might not be heading for “the brig” after all

Only time will tell.

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